Motorcycle.com

HJC IS-MAX II Modular Helmet

Editor Score: 86.0%
Aesthetics 8.5/10
Protection 8.0/10
Value 9.5/10
Comfort/Fit 8.5/10
Quality/Design 9.5/10
Weight 9.0/10
Options/Selection 8.5/10
Innovation 8.5/10
Weather Suitability 9.5/10
Desirable/Cool Factor 8.0/10
Overall Score87.5/100

A few months ago complaints began to filter down that somebody was wearing the same old wine-colored Shoei Neotec modular helmet in every dang photo shoot I was in (and unwashed black Aerostich suit). Action needed to be taken, and one of them was for me to track down the HJC marketing person (one very pleasant Molly Lang), and get myself a new helmet. Here it is, the new IS (internal shield) MAX II modular, in black/blue Elemental graphics.

On the Shoei, I at first thought the internal shield – the dark fighter pilot one that pivots down from inside the shell – was kind of hokey. But I grew to love it. It’s the next best thing to having a Transitions shield, maybe even better, since you can leave the main faceshield open and get plenty of air and eye protection. Or close it and have the same thing as a dark shield. Genius.

The one on the HJC works flawlessly too, even if having to reach to the very top rear of the helmet to open and close it isn’t quite as effortless as the Shoei’s (and the Schuberth E1’s) left neckroll levers.

You’re looking at an Advanced Polycarbonate Composite Shell made using “advanced CAD technology”, forlightweight, superior fit and comfort.” As for light weight, my post office scale has it at 3 pounds, 15 ounces, which is 1.5 ounces lighter than the Neotec and 2 ounces lighter than the Schuberth. It’s light, and that’s good.

Superior fit-wise, the innards were a bit round for my head (which is long oval), but a minute with a lacrosse ball at the temples and lower rear, compressing the liner maybe 0.5mm, had the HJC all-day comfortable.

Naturally it’s DOT-approved, but the HJC shell, the lowers that you pull apart to don and doff it anyway, have way more flexibility than the Schuberth and a bit more give than the Shoei, making the HJC super-easy to pull apart and pop onto your noggin. My ears give it two thumbs up. Once in place, it’s as snug and secure as any of them. And sticking my tortoise-shell Wayfarers in there doesn’t meet any cranial resistance either.

Here it is in HJC’s black/gray “Style” graphic. Six solids are also available, along with five “Elementals” like my blue/black one.

The facepiece closes with a positive, reassuring click, and the release at the bottom of the chinbar is easy to instantly find with either hand to open it again. What you won’t find down there that more expensive helmets often have is a chin curtain to keep out drafts and reduce noise. I always combat the dread chindraft with a bandana anyway, so that’s not a problem, but the HJC may be a tad noisier as a result. Noise totally varies according to the bike you’re riding, wind direction, and how good your earplugs are: With drugstore foam ones firmly seated, and on a bike without a blustery screen, I note very little difference between the HJC and more expensive “wind-tunnel tested” modulars, nor did I ever note any unusual aerodynamics.

The anti-scratch curved shield seals very well fully closed and has five open detents though not a “cracked” one. Intuitive, spring-closed levers make shield removal and replacement virtually idiot-proof, with no need for profanity or a Youtube video. The closeable vent at the helmet’s mouth directs air at the rear of the shield for defogging, and at your nostrils. The shield’s also Pinlock-ready, and claimed 95% UV resistant.

Your “SuperCool” moisture-wicking antibacterial fabric liner pops out easily enough if you’re the type who occasionally likes to wash things, and HJC offers a bunch of different thickness cheek pads. Behind them, you’ll find round indents in the liner one inch in diameter and 2mm thick for speakers.

Venting-wise, there’s one big aperture up top to channel air along the top of your scalp, which then exits four decent-sized vents in the rear of the shell. I give the HJC’s airflow a solid B.

What else? What else you want for $229.99? Made in Vietnam must help keep the price down. No, the HJC isn’t quite as comfy or as perfect in every detail as the Shoei Neotec, but if it’s my money – and/or if money’s important – it’s surprisingly close to modulars that are three times more expensive. I love a bargain. I have a bunch of Arai stickers in the junk drawer, I may throw them on there just to sow discord and confusion.

For more information, visit HJChelmets.com.